Crime & Courts

Troopers: Officers fire on, wound man who fatally injured police dog

A man who allegedly shot and killed a police dog during a pursuit Sunday morning was wounded when an Alaska state trooper and Palmer police officer returned fire, according to troopers.

The incident started at 5:20 a.m. Sunday when a Palmer police officer pulled over a Geo sedan with four occupants in a traffic stop within Palmer city limits, according to an online dispatch from troopers. It wasn't clear what spurred the traffic stop.

The vehicle pulled away and "began traveling southbound on the Glenn Highway," troopers said. The Palmer police officer called for help from Alaska State Troopers.

"The suspect vehicle eluded police for several miles until it pulled into a driveway near the Glenn Highway/Parks Highway interchange," according to the dispatch.

The vehicle pulled "a couple hundred" yards down the driveway before the driver exited and ran into the woods, with a Palmer police officer, a trooper and a trooper K-9 pursuing the suspect into the woods.

The driver, who troopers identified as 25-year-old Almando Abarca, fired "multiple rounds," striking the police dog, troopers wrote.

Both officers then returned fire, striking Abarca once in the shoulder, troopers said.


The dog died of gunshot wounds several hours later at the office of a local veterinarian.

The suspect was taken to a local hospital with a single gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Abarca is being charged with third-degree assault, harming a police dog in the first degree and eluding police. He also had a $20,000 warrant for burglary, according to troopers.

The names of the officers who fired their weapons are being withheld for 72 hours per Palmer Police Department and Alaska State Troopers policies.

Troopers will not release the name of the police dog killed until after the 72-hour waiting period is over because the dog and officer worked as a pair and identifying the animal would identify the officer, said troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain.

Correction: This story originally identified the suspect as Armando Abarca.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.